Lemon's Baby Buffalo

2083 Words9 Pages
Throughout history, many soldiers faced life-threatening or traumatic events during war, as it took heavy tolls on them. Some events would cause them to relive these experiences through either nightmares or flashbacks. Tim O’Brien, a veteran who has received a Purple Heart, knows how traumatic events can affect soldiers as it makes them do things “brand-new and profound” which, in his story, “How To Tell A True War Story”, shows his characters “a piece of the world so startling there was not yet a name for it”(293). There are many terms used to describe this behavior, as war has always had an impact on people, but the most common is called Post-traumatic stress disorder, otherwise known as PTSD. It was the new name for an old story, and thanks to the Vietnam War, this disorder has been examined more closely. According to “Posttraumatic stress disorder: a history and a critique” by Dr. Andreasen, PTSD was soon defined “as a stress disorder that is a final common pathway occurring as a consequence of many different types of stressors” (Andreasen). In “How To Tell a True War Story”, author and narrator Tim O’Brien, writes about his own experiences during the Vietnam War, which show how PTSD seems to affect himself and his friend Rat Kiley. After witnessing the death of his best friend, Rat goes through an emotional roller coaster as he starts taking his feelings out on a baby Vietcong water buffalo they find, by torturing and eventually killing it. This baby water buffalo represents Rat’s innocence and attachment to his best friend as PTSD is prominent while he comes to terms with what happened to his best friend. Everything occurred so quickly when Curt Lemon died, that “…it’s difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen” (289). Lemon’s death was traumatic for those who witnessed it because it was so unexpected and close to home for
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